I have bought a copy of One Piece, but I have to use some apps to read that while I have bought it with a full-priced. For example, I bought a manga online on some random online bookstore. The price for the digital version of that manga is about $7, and for the physical version, it costs $10.

It's understandable/acceptable for the price, with $3 different, because probably it was a cut-off from the printed cost which is come from the printed version, the digital version is print-less...

However, why do I have to read manga on some apps that were used for reading manga online? Why can they just give us, customers, the PDF version of the manga?

  • 1
    i don't know if you'd call it manga but Fakku (NSFW) i have been told sells PDFs of doujin and DLSite (NSFW) does too but their's has DRM on them
    – Memor-X
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 13:36
  • 5
    It's probably a security measure--it's a lot easier to protect from piracy when you can only see it only the app.
    – kuwaly
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 13:36
  • @Memor-X DLSite is a bit interesting that some products have copy-protection (need special viewers), like this product (SFW) while the rest don't, like this product (SFW). Apparently, this also extends to some manga like Freezing which is in PDF and not copy-protected (but manga on DLSite are only available on the Japanese version of the site)
    – Aki Tanaka
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 15:53
  • @AkiTanaka yeh my only experience has been Isya (434notfound)'s Cure Assort doujin series that Yuri-ism translated for her in which the PDF's needed a third party program running for the PDF to open. nowadays Isya and Yuri-ism are releasing her Rule of Zero on Fakku because of the DRM (from my understanding)
    – Memor-X
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 22:49
  • "It's understandable/acceptable for the price, with $3 different, because probably it was a cut-off from the printed cost which is come from the printed version, the digital version is print-less...," This is actually expensive. Distributing digital prints is much cheaper. I just hope that this money is going into Oda's pockets somehow... I would generally advice people not to buy something that they don't really possess afterwards. You didn't buy the manga, you licensed it for yourself. When the company and app is gone, so is your book.
    – SK19
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 17:59

2 Answers 2


As a PC guy that uses spare time to research on DRM, I can tell you that PDF (Portable Document Format) sucks at protecting content in redistribution (in any form including printing, copying, uploading, etc.). There are two reasons:

  • PDF is made for an easy exchange of document without worrying compatibility between different writing software
  • there are no (as far as I know) universal DRM solution for PDF. Adobe DRM won't work on PDF-XChange Reader and vice versa. Some of them use customized PDF format which only specific application could read, thus limits the portability.

In publisher's perspective, the second point is the thing that they don't want to see: bypassing DRM protection. As PDF properties, it becomes the less ideal media. To protect their revenue and IP, they're more willing to use a custom proprietary format because the benefits it provides outweighs the drawbacks.


  • The History of PDF (Paragraph 3, 2017)

  • Adobe Digital Edition uses ACSM file (a customized XML) with resource IDs inside rather that actual content. Other application couldn't get the content except ADE. (Adobe Digital Edition)

  • There are tools to remove ADE protection and convert them into plain PDF or EPUB. I won't post a link so please Google yourself.

  • And I'm very glad it doesn't work. DRM is not contributing to human culture imho.
    – SK19
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 17:55
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    DRM is a two-edged sword. One side it gives publisher comfort that their sales won't hurt. The other side it gives user headaches because of limitations. In the past, people share their manga with others. By the fact that a single person can't share his manga to many people, publisher isn't worried much. However, the internet is whole different story, a person upload a manga can reach thousands even millions of people, then publisher starts to worry and they have to because it hurts their sales significantly.
    – Hartman
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 18:08

Because in this way they can turn a product into a service. So they do not sell you a product "a copy of manga XXX". They sell you a service "providing access to manga XXX". When the company gets liquidated they will stop providing the service to you. When they decide that something is not right (e.g. there is a problem with the copyright of the original work), they can stop prividing the service to you, etc. In this way they not only have full control of the source material, but also of every copy.


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